Best odds: 41/20
Mallorca are set to welcome Celta Vigo to the Iberostar Stadium on Friday evening, as part of the 18th round of the 2022/23 season in La Liga.
The season in the Spanish top flight is approaching its halfway point, and the table standings between places 10 and 19 are extremely tight – only seven points apart, and each game practically brings a change for one team or the other. Mallorca top this group, sitting 10th with 22 points, and there’s still plenty of time for them to catch up with the top six and fight for a place in Europe; just as there’s enough time for them to end up fighting to avoid relegation, should their form take a wrong turn for a while. Girona are only a point below, Valencia three with a game in hand, and Almeria four.
Speaking of form, Javier Aguirre’s team started their last-six run in all competitions with a 0-1 win over Real Union in the Copa del Rey, followed by a 2-0 league defeat away to Getafe, a cup win 0-2 away to Pontevedra, a 1-0 win at home over Valladolid, a 1-0 defeat away to Osasuna, and the Copa exit at the hands of Real Sociedad, 1-0 away. It was Sociedad midfielder Robert Navarro who proved fatal for Mallorca’s cup campaign this term, scoring the only goal of the game in the fifth minute.
Aguirre rotated his team severely for the cup game against Sociedad, but he’ll surely revert to the strongest team possible for this clash. That means defenders Jaume Costa and Pablo Maffeo, midfielders Clement Grenier and Dani Rodriguez, as well as forward Vedat Muriqi, are set to return to the starting XI.
Things are notably more serious at the moment for Celta, who are already too close to the relegation zone for comfort. They are officially 16th, but in a cluster of four teams, along with Espanyol in 14th, Getafe in 15th, and Valladolid in 17th, with 17 points on the board each. That’s just one more than Cadiz and two more than Sevilla, both in the danger zone. The scramble to avoid the drop appears set to be desperate as the season progresses, though for Elche, sitting at the bottom with just five points, without a single win, it may well be over already.
This game will actually be the sixth since the World Cup for Celta, so their last-six run still includes a 1-6 win away to Algar in the Copa back in mid-November. Since the tournament in Qatar, they’ve beaten Gernika 0-3 away in the second round of the cup, drawn 1-1 at home against Sevilla, lost 3-1 away to Espanyol in the round of 32 of the cup, beaten the unhappy Elche away by 0-1, and drawn 1-1 at home against Villarreal.
Head coach Carlos Carvalhal is expected to have the full squad at his disposal for the Mallorca trip, with no injury problems reported at all these days. But unlike Aguirre, he won’t have much cause to change the team that played a fine game against Villarreal.
There could be, however, an exception in the form of striker Jorgen Strand Larsen, who came off the bench to score in that game might have earned a place in the starting lineup this time.
Interestingly enough, the odds for this clash with most bookies are split right down the middle, with both teams given an equal chance of winning. If any match felt like draw, it’s this one.
Best odds: 41/20
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